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Tuesday, 18 September 1906

Senator DRAKE (Queensland) . - If Senator Findley is satisfied with the dictum of the Minister of Defence, no doubt he will pursue his request for an amendment no further, but I would suggest to him that it should be pressed, at any rate, to the extent of getting a ruling as to whether it is unconstitutional. The only reason which the Minister has given for holding that view is that it is contrary to section 55 of the Constitution, which says -

Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Read on.

Senator DRAKE

Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only, but laws imposing duties of customs shall deal with duties of customs only, and laws imposing duties of excise shall deal with duties of excise only.

Senator Playford - The request does not deal with duties of Excise only.

Senator DRAKE - That section was inserted in the Constitution in order to prevent "tacking." The request deals undoubtedly with a matter of taxation. Clause 2 of the Bill does not deal with taxation, but relates to a matter of taxation, because it provides that brandy which has been in bond for a year may be cleared without paying the additional duties. The object of section 55 was to prevent a Government from bringing forward; as a taxation measure, a Bill which the Senate could not amend, and smuggling into it a provision which otherwise it could amend. But I am not prepared to admit that in a Bill imposing taxation we cannot insert any provisions we like in connexion with that taxation. For instance, suppose that Senator Findley were to leave out the introductory part of his amendment - that is -the affirmation of a principle - and to merely propose that -

The Governor-General may, in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Representatives, impose an additional Excise duty of is. per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the schedule - would it not relate to a matter of pure taxation? The introductory part of the amendment is merely the condition upon which the honorable senator says that the additional duty may be imposed. But it is clear that if only the second part were enacted, and he considered that proper wages were not being paid in an industry, he could come down here and submit a motion for a joint address to the GovernorGeneral on the subject. That would clearly be the better way to proceed, because it would be free from the objections so strongly urged to the request. As the proposal stands, it may be the affirmation of a principle, but, on account of its vagueness, it is nothing more. There is also the great objection, which I endeavoured to point out by way of interjection, that the distillers might be scattered all over the States, and if one committed a breach of the provision the Excise duty would have to be raised by is. all over Australia, and those who were observing what were deemed to be fair and reasonable conditions would thus be penalized. I have not seen legislation like this before, but, no doubt, the Excise duty would have to be raised on account of a jointaddress. I am not prepared to assent to the dictum of the Minister of Defence that the proposed amendment is unconstitutional, as repugnant to section 55 of the Constitution ; but a' tax Bill must deal with a matter of taxation only. - if it relates to Customs taxation, it must not introduce Excise taxation, and vice versa.

Senator Styles - Does the honorable senator mean that only the words beginning " The Governor-General " should be left?

Senator DRAKE - It is clear to me. that if only those words be left, it could not be urged that the proposal is contrary to section 55 of the Constitution, because it relates directly to the matter of the imposition of taxation by means of an Excise duty. The other words simply vaguely state the grounds on which both Houses might be asked to agree to a joint address.

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